New to dementia with my Mom living close by now.

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I want to say hello to others who are facing the same or similar challenges I am facing with my mother. Compared to many people's stories, I believe my experience is more positive than negative at this point, but it's good to be aware of the changes that may occur down the road as my mother's dementia progresses.

My mother has had a couple episodes in the past five years of strokes. After the strokes occurred she began to exhibit memory loss. We were told she had a mini stroke and would recover without permanent damage, however she does have short term memory loss. Actually I am now wondering if she was exhibiting some sort of dementia as long as I can remember. She has always gone down memory lane, repeating her stories of her life growing up and as a young adult to me hundreds of times. No matter if I would remind her then (and I'm talking back when I was a young adult myself and she no where near elderly) that I already knew the story--she would continue to tell her stories over and over. I would often think she needed a new person to hear her stories as I knew them all by heart myself. Things have not changed now that she is 86 years old. Still hearing those same stories.

After her strokes, my brother and I have encouraged my mom to move closer to one of us, and she would consider it, but change her mind. Finally, this spring, she decided it was time to move. She is now living in an independent living facility only five minutes from my home. With her living so close to my husband and me, I am now front and center of what her life is really like now. Living six hours away my brother and I both knew she was declining mentally, has been for years, even before her strokes, but we were not as aware as we are now. Now I am much more aware of her decline on a day to day basis. Sometimes she will say something that really blows my mind! Not too often fortunately!

This is all new to me and I'm learning to adjust to having my mother living close by. I am taking each day as it comes. I've seen role reversals in our mother/daughter relationship, but I have to remember my mother will always be my mother. I've made mistakes along the way, but I'm learning and adapting. For the most part, my mother is doing so much better living here than she was doing living six hours away. She was declining physically as well as mentally before she moved here. She's healthier and seems content in her new apartment. It's good to see the positive improvements.

Thanks for reading my comments here. No questions yet, just wanted to touch base. The questions will come no doubt!

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kmangel, it is so nice to read where someone's parent is doing better by being in a community setting. Thank you so much for posting that, it is so very encouraging :)

In regarding to the re-telling of stories of their childhood and young adult years, my Dad [92] has been doing that for a few years now.... I believe it is because he and Mom [96] are still living by themselves in their single family home with no one else to talk to plus nothing new in their lives.

I live down the street but I still have my career, so I do call and talk every evening with my parents unless I had stopped by their house to drop off the groceries, or take them to the doctors. The calls are always the same, mostly about the weather.

My parents rarely see their neighbors because everyone is so much younger [even younger than me] and they either work or have young kids at home. Plus I am an only child who never had any children.

How I wished my parents would have moved into a retirement community so they could have made new friends and do all the activities that the place has to offer. I think they would have a better quality of life. Plus the community has transportation to stores, so my parents could shop until they dropped daily instead of waiting for me to re-arrange my work schedule to take them shopping.... [sigh]
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kmangel, something I've learned as a caregiver for someone with dementia is that every day is like being new to it. Even though the stories are the same and the schedule is the same, it stays new. Maybe it is because the strangeness of it does not set easily in our minds. I have the same inward reaction now to some of the tall tales my mother spins as I did 3 years ago. If we have a crisis it still rattles me. And I find some of the things she does just as irritating. The main thing that is different is I've learned how to stifle my reactions better.

I don't know if anyone ever gets used to dealing with dementia. I personally feel like a perpetual rookie.
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I agree with pams. the more social she can be the better. Look into her town or county senior center, my parents go to theirs daily and most of them provide transportation, daily hot lunches and outings. I hope that we can help our parents in the best ways asthey age, and I hope my children will be there for me.
Keep up the good work and staying positive is definitely a plus. :)
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The biggest thing that extends their lives is social interaction. Encourage her to link up with the other residents and try not to interrupt things like bus trips and bingo. They bond to one another, they keep each other going. Attend the holiday events or concerts there. You have done very well, congrats.
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